This year must be devoted to helping the “bottom billion” of the world’s poorest to tap into global economic growth, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) today.
“In a globalizing world, we require an international economic environment that fosters development,” Mr. Ban said to UNCTAD’s Executive Committee, which is gearing up for this April’s UNCTAD-XII Conference in Accra, Ghana.
“The Accra Conference can advance this aim by galvanizing support for a more development-friendly global economic, trading and financial system. Accra must also articulate an effective strategy to leverage globalization, trade and investment for poverty reduction and economic growth,” he added.
The Conference, Mr. Ban continued, must also help build consensus on how the current impasse in the Doha Round of negotiations on international free trade can be broken. The talks stalled last year amid disputes between developed and developing countries over agricultural subsidies.
Established in 1964, UNCTAD promotes the integration of developing countries into the world economy. It also helps shape policy debates on development, with a focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable growth.
Noting that 2008 is a pivotal year in the effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to reduce extreme poverty and other global ills by 2015, Mr. Ban said that UNCTAD-XII must promote financial policies that help meet the MDGs in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, as a matter of urgency.
The Secretary-General said he will be spending much of this year rallying support for development initiatives in national capitals and at international institutions.
Mr. Ban added that he is also striving to increase the UN’s own effectiveness in advancing its development priorities, and had already formulated recommendations in key areas such as scaling up of activities in support of the MDGs, and bolstering economic development, trade and finance.
“Today’s UN cannot simply champion development, it must deliver every day on its promises,” he said.
While in Geneva today, the Secretary-General also conducted a number of bilateral discussions, meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store among other national officials.